8-way SLI and Crossfire Power Supply (PSU) RoundupWed, Jun 21, 2006 - 12:00 AM
When NVIDIA and ATI started certifying power supplies to work on their SLI and Crossfire gaming platforms a number of problems instantly popped up. The first issue was that ATI and NVIDIA only tested power supplies submitted to them, resulting in their list of approved power supplies being small. The second issue is that both companies test their certified power supplies on a ?current system?, not a high end platform running wide open on all cylinders.
A number of weeks ago a number of system integrators contacted Legit Reviews looking for stable power supplies to power their top end gaming systems. It turns out their systems were not working right with ?approved? power supplies and they turned to us looking for an answer to their problem. We then contacted Aerocool, Antec, Mushkin, OCZ Technology, and Thermaltake for SLI/Crossfire power supplies to see which ones could hang in our test systems.
Today we bring you a roundup of eight SLI and/or Crossfire approved Power Supplies ranging from 550 to 750 Watts. All of which state that they are SLI and/or Crossfire “ready”. Before going any further take a second and look at the ATI Certified Power Supplies and the SLI Ready Power Supplies. Notice that neither ATI nor NVIDIA let you know specifics about the Watts and the Amperage required for power supplies to be stable in their systems. Also take note that neither company tells you what test system their testing was done on making this data a usefull starting point for a power supply search, but it is by no means something to go by. The next time you see one of the logos below keep this in mind!
Our goal was to take a sample of the SLI and Crossfire approved power supplies and put them through some torture testing to make sure they perform up to our standards. Armed with a pair of GeForce 7800GTX 512mb video cards in SLI on AMD’s new AM2 platform with a 5000+ processor and two X1900XT’s in Crossfire on an Intel’s 975 Bad Axe motherboard with a 965 Extreme Edition our core testing platforms are what enthusiasts are running. To top off our base systems we added watercooling, numerous case fans, a DVD-Rom and even Ageia’s PhysX processor card. We put together everything we could think of that would simulate a high-end system with SLI and Crossfire then ran it balls to the wall to see what happens. What did happen was shocking, but expected. Three of the eight power supplies are worth avoiding and we tell you which ones and why.
The PSU’s Tested
AeroCool’s ZeroDBA 620W: First up, we brought back the AeroCool Zerodba 620W PSU from a previous review since it was advertised as SLI and Crossfire Ready. We wanted to re-run this PSU to note how a PSU that shined on an average, mainstream system handled a top of the line system that would push any PSU to its limits.
Antec’s NeoHE 550W: Next, we have the Antec NeoHE 550W PSU. This PSU is also SLI Ready and is one of two 550W PSUs on our test bench today. This PSU should show how well some of the lower wattage SLI Ready PSUs perform running at their max.
Mushkin’s XP-650 650W: Brand new to the power supply market we have the Mushkin XP-650, which is the most expensive one of the group. This PSU has just recently been SLI and Crossfire approved, so we look forward to showing everyone Mushkin’s first impression! Mushkin also asked us to break their power supply if we could as they wanted to find the limits of it — Mushkin is that sure of this PSU.
OCZ’s PowerStream 600W: Well known in the power supply market is OCZ’s PowerStream product line. Today we have the 600W, SLI Ready PowerStream in the mix. One year ago, 600W was a huge PSU, today, it weighs in at the second lowest wattage PSU in the group!
OCZ’s GameXStream 700W: The GameXStream product line is brand new for OCZ. Featuring 600W and 700W flavors, we chose the larger capacity to really show our readers what’s fresh out of OCZ’s doors and how some of the high-wattage PSUs perform.
Thermaltake’s ToughPower 550W & 750W: Thermaltake is another well-known company when it comes to PSU’s, so today we have included both ends of Thermaltake’s ToughPower product line, and also represents the range of all the PSU’s tested here today!
Ultra’s X-Connect X2 550W: Ultra is a company not as well known in the PSU market, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make quality power supplies! Today we included one of their SLI PSUs for comparison to see how well it stacks up to the rest of this highly competative group!
Now that we have explained what our goal is, and what power supplies are being tested, let’s take a look at the eight power supplies.